Estel Lee grew up in Hamilton. He traveled what was probably one of the vaudeville circuits with his own western band and also performed on the shows as a magician. His influence on bluegrass began when he returned to the Cincinnati area and became involved with Lou Epstein and Jimmie Skinner. He worked at the Jimmie Skinner Music Center and started and owned the Excellent and Arvis record labels, which recorded bluegrass, country, and gospel artists.

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